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Location for 20 day Southern Spain stay

We are flying to Malaga in January and wish to explore the Andalucian villages like Olvera, Arcos, and Zahara de la Sierra as well as Granada and Córdoba.

We normally create a point to point itinerary but I wonder if we could stay in 1 or 2 locations.

With 20 days, would you settle in 1 or 2 locations to make day or overnight trips?
And any favorite area to stay ?

Posted by
3470 posts

Guess it depends on how you’re traveling between locations. There are no good day trips to popular tourist destinations from Granada, although there are a few nice small towns within a couple hours of it. For Olvera, Arcos de la Frontera, and Zahara de la Sierra, you’ll need a rental car. Use a town such as Ronda, as a base to do day trips from. At a minimum, I would have three bases, but with the time you have, you could see so many more places than what you’ve listed. Depending on the time you arrive in the towns, Cordoba is good for 2-3 nights, Granada, 2-3 nights, and the white towns area, 3 nights. Consider expanding where you want to visit to possibly include Sevilla, Ubeda, Baeza, Cadiz, and Jerez de la Frontera. If you’ll have a rental car, then you could visit any number of small towns.

Posted by
19509 posts

Do you plan to have a car for part of the trip?

I think Andalucía is much too large for just one or two bases when you have 20 days. With that much time you don't have to rush, treating places as day-trips that deserve more. As far as the Big 3 are concerned, I'd want nights in Granada and Cordoba as well as in Seville. Many people do day-trip to Cordoba from Seville, but Cordoba really has more than one day's worth of sights. What's the point in day-tripping into the same city twice? And I ask that as someone who heartily dislikes changing hotels.

As for other bases, that depends on what other places you want to see: Ubeda/Baeza? Ronda and the white villages? Cadiz/Jerez? Malaga itself?

In case it is helpful, here are the places I day-tripped to from the bases I chose during a month in Andalucía earlier this year (early April to early May). I depended totally on public transportation.

Ubeda: Baeza, Jaen
Cordoba: none
Cadiz: Vejer de la Frontera (Jerez easily doable if you like)
Seville: Carmona, Arcos de la Frontera
Ronda: Grazalema
Malaga: none
Granada: Priego de Cordoba and the Alpujarras (latter probably not good in January)

There were a lot of other places I'd have liked to see, but I didn't have time. I needed a lot of time in the major cities.

Posted by
1120 posts

Thank you for all the feedback!

We plan to rent a car but we’re hoping to dive deep into an area and just enjoy it.

Our problem is that we like to go visit places so bases make sense as long as the bases are large enough and there might be bus or train service to complement the car travel.

Get an extended stay but have travel options which are close by.

Posted by
2340 posts

I agree with Acraven, I don't think Andalucia warrants itself too well to having only 1-2 home bases, unlike Catalonia or el Pais Vasco. Though if I had to choose 1-2 home bases I'd go with:

Western Andalucia - Sevilla (trips to Cordoba, Cadiz, Costa de la Luz, Jerez)

Eastern Andalucia - Malaga (trips to Publos Blancos, Granada, Sierra Nevada skiing)

Posted by
14458 posts

I've had a car twice to visit some of the pueblos blancos, both times based in Ronda, both times in February. I enjoy driving and am willing to do 3-4 hours a day easily, which is what you need for that part of the country. For the rest I moved around and used the trains - which are much faster than driving except for Granada. Ronda has some good sights, the bullring/museum, several small quirky museums (bandoleros, wine/ethnology), and a good selection of restaurants, and evening guitar performances. Many of the pueblos need only an hour or two to visit.

I would want to spend 2 days in Granada, one for the Alhambra and the other for the rest. Unless you have a great deal on a place in Malaga, going for an overnight would mean paying for the night in 2 places.

You could day trip from Sevilla to Cordoba, but that's really shortchanging Cordoba, my favorite Spanish city. Sure you can see the highlights in one day, and people who have done that will tell you that's all you need, but folks who've spent more time there will tell you to stay for at least 2 nights. You can also day trip to Jerez (horse shows, sherry bodega tours) and to ancient Cadiz.

Do look at driving distances/times!

Posted by
1120 posts

Thank you for the great feedback!

We have not visited these areas and are attempting to make judgemental decisions so any advice is greatly appreciated to help us understand the regions !

Posted by
19509 posts

The good news is that there are many interesting destinations in Andalucía, so it's hard to go wrong as long as you don't spend too high a percentage of your time traveling from place to place.